Meet interior decorator Melanie Pounds, today’s FACE of Birmingham. Melanie has a keen eye for interior spaces and her natural, unassuming approach to design gives way to beautiful pairings of old and new, offering an honest appeal and unique vision to the homes she touches.
How did you get your start in decorating?
I’ve been passionate about this ever since I was a small child — I used to gather remnants of wallpaper to use in my dollhouse, and I lit every room with tiny bulbs. My idea of a fun vacation was rearranging the furniture of the place we were staying! If I could’ve, I would’ve spent my entire day in art class or in an artistic atmosphere in school. I loved to get my hands involved in new ideas, loved watching them transform.
Natural textures, materials and colors have always fascinated me. Things like fossils and pyrite are blessings that we walk over or past every day, and seeing how they can be transformed into something beautiful and functional excites me. I love having the opportunity to find those natural elements and pair them with complimentary objects and structures, or to pair the craftsmanship of the seventeenth century with that of the twenty-first century and then see those apparently contrasting elements balance or even create a tension with one another — that really spikes interest and conversation. To see someone enjoy and recognize that makes me feel like they’ve been enriched by the details in nature or in true craftsmanship, and I’m lucky to get to share that with people when they enjoy it in their homes. It’s really rewarding.
How would you describe your style as a decorator?
I have an appreciation for many styles, periods, and materials, and it’s important to find which elements ring true with which clients. I want to be honest about beautiful things and places, to reveal which parts of them should really shine, and to drape what shouldn’t so only the honest beauty comes through.
What are the cornerstones of good decor in your opinion? Where would you suggest people put their money to get the most bang for their buck, if they aren’t able to do it all at once?
Decide what’s important to you! Make that your focal piece and let the rest of the space cater to it.
What trends do you see in home decor going into the future?
Décor is going to be more about creating a space that reflects the way people honestly live. When we do this, our clients are so much happier in their homes because they enjoy their spaces — they don’t have to tiptoe carefully around them. This is different for everyone, so that’s why I do what I do. I like helping people get to that honest, true home that is both a beautiful and a comfortable place to live.
Do you have any secret go-tos for budget friendly decor finds that you can share with us? Or simple advice for our readers as they decorate their homes?
Everything does not have to be an equal investment. Keep your eyes open for a diamond in the rough that can be let out of its cage in a new and different surrounding. The tension of something very organic or vintage with an opposing clean softness can be an interesting and beautiful marriage. Decide what your investment is and let that shine — if you can’t do a lot with the rest, keep it humble and simple and you won’t be disappointed.
What did your bedroom look like as a teenage girl?
It was very English. I grew up in an old, Tudor-style home. The ceiling matched the roofline angling to 14 feet with a chintz canopy, wide arched, steel-frame windows and hardwood floors. My bed and chandelier were my mother’s and grandmother’s, so there was a lot of history there. My sister and I spent many years growing and talking at matching Jack-and-Jill vanities, our bare feet on the hexagonal white tile floor.
If you could share 3 design faux pas what would they be?
1) Incorrect scale 2) Following a trend without exploring what unfortunate territory it may unveil and 3) Unfortunate reproductions — there are so many good ones out there these days, it’s sad to see when pieces are badly done.
What books are on your bedside table?
I love flipping through Veranda and Garden & Gun. As far as books, I’d have to say Good Night Moon and First Prayers!
What’s are some of your favorite Birmingham restaurants?
I’ve always loved Chez Fonfon and Chez Lulu, and I love the fresh Italian food at Trattoria Centrale. I’m definitely a convert to the organic, delicious meals at The Pantry. And, for dessert, I’ll never say no to a Steel City Pop!
Where do you go for inspiration?
I’m often inspired when traveling, listening to someone brilliant, or just going through my bookcase of favorite publications and images I’ve torn from magazines for forever — I started collecting them when I was just a little girl, and I still do it.
What’s the best piece of advice ever given to you?
Do the best you can do. To me, that means learning from my strengths and from my weaknesses: Those things that humble us can be the greatest opportunities for growth. Also, that my friends and family are the most important parts of my life.
What advice would you give to others?
1) Try it. 2) Know when to stop and enjoy the simple things. 3) Use pretty things for simple purposes. 4) Don’t save anything for once a year.
Do you have any personality quirks or irrational fears?
Oh, sure! God made me a creative romantic, and that means I’m a little unbalanced! I’m sometimes afraid to grow because it’s scary to face criticism — but, hey, you have to give it a shot, or you’ll never know, right?
Of course, my children’s photographs and sentimental family jewelry. I’d also like to save my beautiful Lucy Cope matchstrike or a large oil landscape on board (I might need an extra hand for that one!). One I saved up for while working at Circa, and the other is a treasured gift I received there.
Name three things you can’t live without, excluding God, family and friends.
Well, those are all the things I really need. I love all forms of inspiration, I thrive on devoted relationships, and the smiles and laughter of little people bring me incredible joy.
Thanks for sharing, Melanie! To learn more about Melanie and all the ways she can help with your decorating needs, please call 205.541.7339.
And a big thank you to Beth Hontzas for today’s fabulous photos! Find out more about Beth and follow her blog at www.bethhontzas.com.